How to Talk About Wine

How to Talk About Wine

James Sandrini 24th November 2017

Spoiler alert: Nobody gives a shit that the wine tastes of “peaches and apricots.”

Most wine descriptions are akin to describing a celestial, fantastical whatever-a-ball….see, lost you already. Fix up. Back in the game.

The thing about wine is that a. very few people really know their Muscadet from their Moscatel and b. all the time spent discussing it is rarely as fun as the time spent drinking it. So, what can you do to grow your wine game and impress your guests?

Provide Reference Points

If I visit a new town and ask a friendly fellow where the nearest pub is, I’m hoping they signpost it via a local landmark: “Turn left at the Co-op (admittedly not a wondrous landmark…I need to visit more salubrious places…) and it’s opposite the church”. Hurrah! Actionable, relatable and easy-to-navigate instructions.

And as we said, most folks don’t know their Montrachet from their Monterrey. So help them out. Is it dryer or richer than the wine they just tried? Is it sweeter or more acidic than a Sauvignon Blanc? Guide. Them.

And don’t rely on the wine descriptions on the back of the bottle. Please.

Don't Talk About Fruit

For the love of the almighty wine gods, avoid a description that is frothy with flavours. I mean, what does a mulberry taste like? It’s like a raspberry….right? I have no idea. Either way, you’re not leading me to the promise land (remember that relatable bit).

So pack your verbal portrayal with adjectives that mean something: “it’s fat and rich and weighty” means something; “the wine is uber, like German comedy levels of dry” paints a hell of a picture. More of that, please.

Counteract, Rather Than Complement Food

With the exception of desserts, most fatty dishes benefit from a wine that cuts through all the…well, fattiness. And most lean courses can take a bit of depth and flavour and weight.

Think about how people eat and drink for a minute: do they eat a bit, drink a bit, eat a bit and drink a bit more? No. They drink a lot, eat a bit and then a bit more, chat and laugh and eat again, then drink and down it then back to the food, save a sliver or wine to finish with. Most of the time, wine will act as a pre-or-post dish accompaniment in the main, so keep their palate cleansed, or their dry mouth sated.

Learn the Basics

*Someone* had to go and say it huh? We’re are all better at chatting about things we know, so learn the following:

– What Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling tend to taste like

– What Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah / Shiraz usually bring to the table

– A bit of geography, so that you can pick out whether that wine has been made by the coast or inland, on a hill or on the flat, in 40 degree summers or cold AF springs

– What some of those wine descriptions really mean (toasty Chardonnay = oaked Chardonnay)

– And how wonderful Sherry is (nothing to do with the wine chat – that’s a gift from us. More gifts here)

Happy learning!